Henderson defeats Oxford, 7-2
● By Steven Hoffman
West Chester Henderson scored five runs in the fifth inning to defeat Oxford, 7-2, on Monday afternoon.
The Hornets claimed an early lead when, with one out in the bottom of the first, Jimmy Yunker laced a double down the left field line. One out later, Joey Morton drove a double to deep right-center field, plating Yunker.
Oxford starting pitcher Justin Neskie whiffed three Henderson hitters in the first inning. Oxford then turned in a good defensive play behind Neskie in the top of the second when Yunker fielded a grounder off the bat of Cole Steven and started a nice double-play that was completed when Brennan Rozich made a nice turn at second base.
Henderson tied the game in the top of the third when Owen McCarthy singled, Patrick Esemplare walked, and Brendan Gray singled to score McCarthy. Neskie did a good job of getting out of trouble, however, by retiring the next three hitters on a fly out to center, a strikeout, and a ground out. The game was tied, 1-1 after three innings.
McCarthy drove in Henderson’s second run of the game when he singled to left in the top of the fourth.
Oxford answered right back in the bottom of the fourth when Jay Morton singled to left, stole second base, and then scored on a single by Dalen Griffith. Neskie stepped into the batter’s box next, and he promptly doubled to right-center that put runners on second and third with no outs.
Now, it was Henderson starting pitcher Brendan Gray’s turn to pitch himself out of trouble. Gray coaxed a fly out to short right field, and then struck out the next hitter. He ended the scoring threat by getting a ground out to send the game to the fifth inning. It was 2-2.
Henderson plated five runs off Oxford’s bullpen in the top of the fifth—without the benefit of an extra-base hit. Instead, the team relied on patience at the plate, aggressive baserunning, and a few well-placed hits.
Gray walked to lead off the inning. Casey Caufield singled, and then Logan Conduit hit a pop fly in short right field that dropped in for a single. One run scored and runners were at first and third. Conduit stole second base and then Eddie Smink worked a walk to load the bases. Caufield raced home when the last pitch bounced away from the catcher, making it 4-2. Eric Angle singled in the next run, and there were runners at the corners. Another run scored on an infield single by Steven, making it 6-2. One out later, Angle hustled home on a wild pitch to give Henderson the 7-2 lead.
Gray pitched a scoreless inning in the bottom half of the fifth, and then Henderson called on reliever Danny Collinson to finish off the last two innings. Collinson hit one batter in the sixth, but that was the only runner to reach base for the Hornets in the final two innings.
Henderson’s record improved to 4-5 on the season, while Oxford’s record now stands at 6-4.
Oxford hosts Kennett on April 24 and then travels to play Great Valley for a game on April 26.